Re "Federal Case," by Violet Law [Nov. 15]: The article doesn't seem to serve neighborhoods, in that it offers no solutions to the problems of vacant land, vacant housing, loss of population, deterioration of business districts and providing quality affordable housing. Central Northside Neighborhood Council, as a neighborhood group in existence for 36 years, has worked very hard to address all of these things with only resident volunteers and minimal staff.
The article's tone suggests that the development will not serve North Siders and will not address the needs of those looking for quality affordable housing. It doesn't go into the many years of community meetings and late nights spent talking with residents about the deterioration of segments of the neighborhood. This was not a top-down process, but was sprouted by residents that live on these streets. Out of those late nights and numerous publicly advertised, publicly attended meetings came a plan to create mixed-income housing on vacant land. This development is very much representative of the residents of the neighborhood, as they were the ones that dreamt it up.
This journalism is very disappointing, not to mention containing some major errors. This development doesn't only build homes: It also provides infrastructure improvements to a main thoroughfare on the North Side. Improvements of a planting median, new trees, new lighting and new sidewalks will not only benefit residents of the immediate neighborhood, but those in neighborhoods up Federal Street, like Fineview and Perry Hilltop.
In addition, with the second deferred mortgages, some homes will sell for around $80,000, very much providing affordable housing. Where else in Pittsburgh can you get a new home with 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths for that price? This calls into question what Violet told people about the housing prices, and how she has framed her argument.
Is this article just a way to polarize our neighborhoods so nothing can be created or improved? Does it serve Pittsburgh? Those looking for affordable housing? The North Side?
Am I suggesting that gentrification isn't a real issue as neighborhoods change? No. But when a neighborhood council is doing all it can to keep housing prices down, improve the aesthetics of a neighborhood, and make sure that every voice is heard, that should be celebrated. If the article was to be about gentrification, solutions should have been seriously explored, not exploited.
-- Rebecca Davidson-Wagner, Community Development Specialist
Central Northside Neighborhood Council